Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Event Horizon

Almost midnight. I go to the beach with my family. The night is hazy but the moon is striking. Where is everyone? The fourth tide has already come in, and the post-super moon is rising to the east. The waves tumbling towards us are muffled against the beach, softer than expected, gentle. A constant breeze, humid, blankets me with a layer of the sea. The four of us walk towards Jetty Park. I make out a few pinpoint lights along the jetty. They seem to fade momentarily, but I assign it to the stigma of the wet, night air. The fortress of condos to the west are all dark as if they haven't been lived in for years. Over the entire Atlantic, I see only two constant sources of light: one from a large ship miles away and the other from the moon a world away. Are we the only ones left on Earth?

I get behind. I stop to take pictures of the moon with my cell. Not satisfied. I jog up to the boys, the wet sand pulling at my feet. My forehead is wet from the humidity, but I have no trouble wading against the sea air. We slow down and coalesce near something washed up on the beach, but not for long. We keep moving; first as a clutch, but then gradually spreading out as if carried by our own currents.

I walk with my head locked towards the ocean. I think about my war story. I re-examine my protagonist, the artist Gauthier Brendel, and his fixation on the moon. I walk along the edge; the edge where the waves thin and tire out against the thick sand and when the waves decide to return to the ocean. I wonder if Gauthier's fixation is plausible, if his philosophies of life in view of the war that he pins on the moon as reference is too innocent, too symbolic, too imbecile. I stop to take another picture of the moon, letting the others walk pass.

I try to capture the moon's brilliance in the black sky and capture it's light reflecting off the small waves of ocean. I try to avoid the ship's light just to the south on the very edge of the ocean. I taste the salt on my lips and realize how much I love the brine that condenses on my skin, that bathes my flesh, that becomes my own sweat and salt as if I am a part of the ocean. And I wish I could taste forever, the ocean.

I take the picture. The ship's light is still in the frame. I let the waves wash over my feet, feel the sand give way around me. I renegotiate with my worries. We agree that if the moon symbolism is too much, then I can always revise it out. I catch up with the boys. They are still spread apart, but they walk in unison. I wonder what they are doing in their own world. I run up ahead. I try to put space between the moon and the ship's light. I am anticipating the ship is moving further south and a better perspective lies ahead. Will I ever be done revising this story? I begin to worry that I have no talent to finish the book.

I stop and take more pictures. I hate it when I doubt myself. I snap a few portrait frames, and I successfully keep out the ship's light. I am pleased. What about the sea turtles, Chris asks. I am confused by the question. I then remember the rule to extinguishing of lights along the beach, the request that all lights be avoided because they may compete with the moon's light and confuse sea turtles coming to shore to lay eggs. The condos are dark...

I tell Chris he's right. I'm a Biologist, so I am embarrassed. I try to reason why I forgot about the sea turtles. I start walking again, stare at the lights from the jetty. I reason the brilliance of my flash is minor, that it does no real harm, so I had no reason to think about it. I realize that we were never really alone, the condos are full of people. I reason that the light of the moon is strong; that the moon's light is constant. I realize that I'm fine with not remembering everything. I reason a flash is only a flash, and the light of the moon is forever. Time is key.

I don't take any further pictures.

We walk further on, this time together. I re-convince myself that I do have talent. I may never be a Hemingway. I love this night, and I am not going to ruin it with my fears. I remind myself that I never wanted to be a Hemingway. I want to be me. I want to be uniquely me. And, I want this night to last, if not forever, then at least another day, another week, another month, another year or ten or thirty with my family, on the beach, along the sea, under the moon.

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